Saturday, 26 January 2013

Large Ports Will Benefit Most from Panama Canal Expansion

Drawing close to the Panama Canal’s expansion project’s completion in 2015, countries are pursuing immediate investments in new vessels and port infrastructure. The Panama Canal expansion consists of building a 3rd lock, this lock will be wider than the 2 original locks which range 110 feet wide. The “New Panamax” is the term for ship size limits when travelling through the Panama Canal. These limits and regulations are set by Panama Canal Authority, and since the opening of the canal in 1914, “Panamax” has been in effect. In 2009, “New Panamax” was published by the Canal management. These new limits will begin to take effect, when the third set of locks is operational and ready for use. Based on lock dimensions, New Panamax will be fully functional to transport 13,000 TEU ships, compared to 5,000 TEU, prior to the expansion.

Regions all over the world are hurrying to complete infra-structure projects, so that their domestic shipping industry, can accommodate the New Panamax’s dimensions; and ensure their region’s port does not get passed. All throughout the east coast of the United States, port infrastructure is being upgraded and modernized. Ports of New York City, Norfolk and Baltimore have already increased their depths to at least 50 feet to meet the new demands. The Port of Miami has approved the same project and will be the closet deep water port to the Panama Canal, in the United States. New York and New Jersey Port Authority are also planning to invest $1 billion in raising the clearance of the Bayonne Bridge, to allow containers to reach port facilities in New Jersey.

Despite the fact that the new locks are much larger, there still remains ships which the Panama Canal cannot accommodate. Those like the Maersk E-class, the future Maersk Triple-E class container ships, TI class supertankers and Valemax ore carriers, are still much too wide for the new locks. Aside from economic and operational considerations, there is no technical reason that could prevent ships from getting larger and more efficient, to meet the demands of the shipping industry. Essentially, with the expansion of the Panama Canal in 2015, the large ports around the world that can accommodate the modern mega-container ships; will prosper from the expanding shipping industry.

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